Let's Connect With Those Around Us

Although there are ongoing efforts to connect 5C students to the broader communities that envelop the consortium, we believe that many students are still most concerned with their peers and professors, at the expense of relationships with other staff members and the off-campus community.

Last week, TSL ran several pieces focused on the staff of the Claremont Colleges. For the News section, staff writer Carlos Ballesteros profiled two of the workers at Claremont McKenna College’s Collins Dining Hall in "The American Dream at CMC," part of a larger series on 5C staff. In the Opinions section, guest contributor Nicholas Sundback argued that Pomona College’s housekeeping staff deserve a higher wage (“Pay Them What They’re Worth”). 

We welcomed Sundback’s effort to draw attention to the workers who, often silently, play such a significant role in shaping the experience of these liberal arts colleges. For the same reason, we intend to continue publishing profiles of individual staff members. These members of our community deserve greater recognition for their contributions to our lives.

Of course, that's not to say that all students at the 5Cs fail to appreciate or get to know staff members. Stories of closeness between members of the P-P football team and the late Leticia Fuentes speak to that, and we're aware that many students have formed valuable bonds with staff members—and we commend them for this!

But we believe there could be many more such relationships formed, and many students would do well to get to know staff members, to share experiences and stories with all the people who belong to our community. 

These staff members are also members of the larger communities we mentioned before, and in that respect they are living links to the lands beyond the bubble. Despite the efforts of Pomona’s Draper Center and similar organizations, including a slew of tutoring groups that place 5C students in local schools, we still find that many students are unaware or even dismissive of the cities and towns that surround our idyllic campuses. But on-campus events provide one antidote to this apathy.

The Rockabilly Festival at Pitzer College, which we covered April 4 in the Life & Style section (“Rockabilly Festival Showcases Latino/a Cultural History"), is a great example of an event that drew attendees from outside the Claremont Colleges as well as students. This weekend's International Day at CMC and No-Chella at Pomona (see music columnist Gage Taylor's preview on page 9) also reliably bring community members to campus. All three, and numerous other events like them, provide casual, fun environments for students to meet local residents. Still, it often seems that even at those events, students continue to avoid such interactions.

While TSL will continue to promote a greater understanding of the on-campus staff members and off-campus communities that shape the Claremont consortium, the initiative will inevitably fall to students in the end. Our administrations already make a habit of addressing announcements to “students, faculty, and staff”—how often have you heard a student describe the people they interact with using the same phrase? Students must make a deliberate effort to increase their consciousness of the individuals in our midst and around us who too often go unnoticed.